Busch Gardens

Who could go to Williamsburg without visiting Busch Gardens? While this is the finale of the vacation posts, we didn't just go to the park for one day. My family had 7-day bounce passes that allowed us to visit Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, and Colonial Williamsburg as many times as we wanted. So we ended up spending one full day at the park, as well at eating dinner there a few nights.

Busch Gardens in Virginia is a European themed amusement park. The park is divided into countries: Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and New France. (New France is actually western-themed. It's based on the French colonies in North America's Old West.) The rides mostly match up with their country's theme. For example, Escape from Pompeii, a thrilling boat ride, is in Italy while Alpengeist, a ski lift themed roller coaster, is in Germany. The food vendors also line up with the appropriate country. Ireland has stew and pork loin, but New France has wood-smoked chicken and ribs. The park, as a whole, is a delight to wander through.

During this trip, we decided that my daughter would try her first roller coaster. Since she loved Water Country, she agreed to try it out. (Our family rule is "You have to try it before you say you don't like it.") We picked Apollo's Chariot, the only coaster in the park that does not have loops. (The idea of loops freaked her out.) While my husband and I loved it, my daughter, unfortunately, did not. Ah well. Instead, she liked the more "classic" rides - bumper cars, Roman Rapids (a white water rapid ride), and Turkish Delight (that ride in almost every park that spins in a circle, forcing you to squash your ride partner). There were a few others that she enjoyed but these were the main ones.

I think my daughter's favorite part of the park was the nightly fireworks display. Called IllumiNights, the main fireworks are launched from the train bridge between Italy and Germany. (The best spot to watch them is on the pedestrian bridge between those countries. Just make sure you are on the train bridge side and not the Loch Ness Monster side.) Smaller side fireworks are occasionally launched from both Italy and Germany as well. Of course, there is a soundtrack to go along with them. My daughter loved the display. It was a nice way to end the day.

Amazingly, Busch Gardens is one of those amusement parks that you can enjoy even if you don't like rides. The various European stores and restaurants are enough to keep someone interested for most of the day. However, I'd really recommend giving the Loch Ness Monster a try. It's one of my favorite roller coasters and I only hope that I can convince my daughter to ride it one day.